The Company band (sigh)

Dinosaur David BDinosaur David B Posts: 18,669
So after 5 months of unemployment in Boston, we up and left that horrid town behind, and moved back to NYC -- where I found work in THREE WEEKS.  At a great company that is not a start up (1600 employees worldwide) seems to grow every quarter, and doesn't seem to be laying people like me off every time the sales guys fail.  

So I'm digging this job, and loving where I work.  I play guitar at lunch time as work permits -- in the "game room" with the pool table, the foosball table, the playstation and the big flatscreen TV.  As Feints is now just an intellectual concept, I  mostly work on improving as a player.

 But my company has a band.  And the band plays our company parties -- which are epic, seasonal, expensive corporate affairs.  And while the band doesn't get paid, the company foots the bill for the Manhattan rehearsal space(s) and any equipment rentals required for the parties.  And they only have to play like 8-10 songs.

So I'm thinking: here I am, new in town. Don't know many folks yet, much less players. Let's see what this band is about. My expectations are EXTREMELY low. For a company with a big intranet of stuff that's going on, there is scant-little on this band.  But people in my department kind of suggest I should hook up with these guys. So they make an email intro and I meet the de-facto leader of this band, and he gives me the scoop. 

The company band is a revolving door of employees (you MUST be an employee), and people come and go from the lineup.  The first thing he tells me is: "the guy who started the band was out last year, but he wants to come back. He's a great bassist, but he only wants to play Trumpet.  The rest of the band doesn't get along with him, and he wants to play lots of horn songs. We'd prefer to go in a more classic rock direction."

Sadly this guy can't seem to tell this horn player to either "play bass or take a hike." Anyway, with red flags everywhere, I agree to go to an audition.  They gave me these 4 songs to learn:

DNCE - Cake by the Ocean
Jack White - I'm Shakin' 
Mchael Jackson - Black or White
The Ataris - Boys of Summer -- the Don Henley song done big, loud, power chordy and punky. Not bad.

I didn't HATE any of this stuff too much, but it's a zillion miles from Dino, and the Jack White song is a predictably masochistic, douchey arrangement on-purpose. 

And my feeling is that playing this kind of crap will get me out of my comfort zone and playing more diverse stuff (funky pop, etc.), while still giving me some moments to rip.

Besides, I'm considering doing this far more for the SOCIALIZATION aspects.  Make new friends, etc.

So I get these tunes  last Saturday, and am supposed to know them by Wednesday (tonight).  And I did. Jack White's stupid arrangement and all. 

So after a long day at work, we go three blocks down the street to a rehearsal studio to run this shit.  Them auditioning me.  Except, I'm auditioning them, too.  The defacto band leader is on bass tonight because he fills in whatever is needed. I don't know what his primary/best instrument is, but he sucks on bass. The drummer is kind of lousy and lame.  The keyboard player is "auditioning" too, and he's less than impressive. And while the band has several singers, only two show up -- a guy and a girl -- a few more couldn't make it.  

I was able to plug into a 30 watt Orange with an Orange 2x12.   I had my beater, Mexican HSS strat with me, and a small pedal board of a wah, TS-9, Phase 90, and a CE-5.

And not only was I the best player there -- I KNOW THEIR FUCKING SONGS/ARRANGEMENTS BETTER THAN THEY DO.  And because of that, during the audition, I'm starting to actually direct traffic . . .  no, it's a double chorus before the bridge. Then it goes back to the intro.  And the singers are reading the lyrics off their fucking PHONES.   This is a set of songs they played last season.

I'm thinking: these guys actually get in front of the company and  . . . do this???

So when it was over, it was pretty clear they want me.  I'm just not sure I want them.  They seem FAR too democratic for any good to come of it.  They ought to tell the horn player to fuck off. They told me: other good players don't want to be involved in the band because of this asshole.  And I'm thinking, SO WHAT'S THE PROBLEM? Give him the ol' Spanish Archer.   But I don't sense any of these folks have the cojones to tell this guy: play bass, or take a hike.  I haven't even met this guy yet, and I already hate him.  I told them I didn't want to walk into a shit show with a guy NO ONE wants in the band.  I wonder if I can fanagle a "him or me" scenario to help these guys find their ball bags?

My "best case scenario" here is widen your scope as a playerhave some fun, and make new friends. But the whole thing seems rather half-assed. 

Stay tuned. Hilarity will undoubtedly ensue.

Post edited by Dinosaur David B on
I threw me guitar out. Why bother? Why bother? Use it as a coffee table. Because I can't play it like that. 
-- David St. Hubbins.


  • Haha! Well, you will undoubtably learn something through it all, even if it's that you want no part of it. But maybe you will be pleasantly surprised. Worth a go. Keep us posted.

    I'm actually doing a similar thing for a couple gigs coming is for a high school reunion and one is for a company Christmas party in December. Gotta learn like 30 songs and most of it is pop/dance stuff with just a few classic rockers in there. I did this once last year and it was a little weird playing that style, but overall not a bad exercise for your playing IMO. I think you'll find the same to be true. But then again, I'm actually getting paid :-)
  • most bands are half assed now, ain't they?  i can't wait to see how this evolves.
  • in the '90s, the NOPD used to have a "blues" band, called NOPD Blue, or something like that.  they were actually pretty good.  kids coming up in NOLA learn music at home or in the neighborhood, in many cases.  

    also, in NOLA, the dudes with the horns make the rules..  lol  you learn to play in F, Bb, Eb, Ab, C, and G, and aren't allowed to even discuss E, A, B, D.  i think they poison your shellfish if you bring it up more than once.
  • HaffnerHaffner Posts: 8,108

    The thing about the horn/bass player might be the whole caboose.

    This sounds like one of those makeshift bands that aren't really concerned with playing music. Which is fine for them...unfortunately, Dave plays music.

  • "He's a great bassist, but he only wants to play Trumpet."
    Curious. If the guy is a great bassist, he must be enjoying the bass one way or another. So maybe he's actually not that great as a bassist, and that's why he insists on trumpet... 
  • yngwie666yngwie666 Posts: 6,557
    edited September 2017
    You should take over has band leader and make that thing rock harder than ever !  Then you'd get noticed at the company party...I mean if they suck so bad you can only make that band better, right ?
    In my previous company there was an event and there were a couple of  hired musicians playing like soft Jazz. At the end, it started to get boring and my boss asked me to play something, I took the Jazz guitar, turned the "distortion" knob to the max on the Jazz Chorus amp and started to play some basic rock'n roll (à la Chuck Berry). then people started to dance...
    Post edited by yngwie666 on
  • cvansicklecvansickle Posts: 6,355
    yngwie666 said:
    You should take over has band leader and make that thing rock harder than ever !  Then you'd get noticed at the company party.
    This. Dave, it sounds like you're the only one with experience AND talent, plus we all know you have the leadership capabilities. Crap players have been in the revolving door because there's no compelling reason for GOOD players to latch on to this train-wreck. Give the thing a solid direction. "The name, is DALTON! This is the NEW Double Deuce!"

    The corporate gig thing could be a blast. The band that played my nephew's wedding a few weeks ago mostly does corporate gigs. They were guitar, bass, keys, drums, sax, trumpet, plus male and female lead vocals. They covered everything from classic rock to dance pop to swing to country. My eyes were on the guitar player all night, of course, and he was killing it and having fun too.
    Death Or Glory - Who Dares Wins!
  • Dinosaur David BDinosaur David B Posts: 18,669
    edited January 2018
     So maybe he's actually not that great as a bassist, and that's why he insists on trumpet... 
    You could well be correct!   I don't know what counts as "great" with these guys -- but I haven't seen any yet. 

    Haffner said:

    The thing about the horn/bass player might be the whole caboose.

    You could well be correct, too!  This minimally has a chance of being fun, but not if they let this idiot back in.  My hope is this -- 4 of them have now seen me show up -- more prepared than them, knowing and playing their songs better than they do.  I don't think they've ever had a guitarist who's a competent lead player.  So they've seen what I bring to the table, and -- believe it or not, there aren't 4 other guitarists behind me ready to take this gig if I don't. You HAVE to be an employee, and it's a very specialized situation.  

    And I've let it be known I don't want to step into a shit-show with this guy.  If nobody likes him, and other former players aren't coming back because of him, that's ridiculous.  I said last night: "how many players are you going to lose over one guy nobody wants in the band?"  And the response was kind of a sheepish "Well, yeah. That's a good point." But I don't get the sense there's any follow-through there.  This guy started the band, so they think they're somehow obligated to take him back.  I think they aren't. 

    So the question is, are they going to let their new, potential lead guitarist walk over a dickhead who wants to play trumpet who pulls the band in a direction they don't want to go? That's the question.

    So I'm gonna follow up with the defacto leader and say: "I'm still leary of this situation," and let him know I'm not 100% sold yet.  My feeling is stand up to him! Tell him he's back on bass, or not at all. If he's not causing too much dissention and drama, maybe let him play trumpet on one tune.  But I've been told he's not going to do that.  So I want this leader thinking if we don't stand up to this guy, we might not get Dave.  

    yngwie666 said:
    You should take over as band leader and make that thing rock harder than ever ! 
    I might well take over leading the rehearsals -- I pretty much had to do that last night anyway. Had to tell the singers when to come in. Had to tell the bassist to play a riff in the low register. Had to tell the drummer to pick up the tempo and where breaks were.  Had to tell the bassist and keyboard player that a song they learned in Eb either needed to be played in E, or the stringed instruments would have to tune down to get the low register of the instruments.  No one knew what the heck they were doing, and I sensed NO leadership from "the leader" or anyone else.  They're lucky the company is paying for the rehearsal time, cause they were wasting a LOT of it. 

    As for rocking harder than ever, it will likely do that just by having me and my Dino sound in the band, but it's not like we can play a bunch of Black Sabbath and Accept songs in a band playing company functions.  It's going to be danceable music.  And I'm OK with that. It will have moments that rock.  And even a modern pop song like Cake by the Ocean, I can do a blazing outro solo on stuff like that. 

    The corporate gig thing could be a blast. 
    Well this isn't a classic corporate gig -- which can be fun and quite lucrative.  These guys ONLY play the company functions and don't get paid for that.  But it could still be fun if the above issues are addressed. It was good to get in a room, plug into a loud amp, and play with other players. Probably been over a year since I last did that. 
    Post edited by Dinosaur David B on
    I threw me guitar out. Why bother? Why bother? Use it as a coffee table. Because I can't play it like that. 
    -- David St. Hubbins.
  • you never know, you could turn this outfit into a thing you can sell.  i smell money.
  • You have to get the band to talk like douchey HR and "let him go".
    Check out my band: Bevar Sea
  • OskyOsky Posts: 1,099
    edited September 2017
    I wonder if the reason nobody will deal with the knobhead trumpet/bassist is due to his position in the company? If he's in a position of power then I can understand people's lack of balls if he could potentially make their professional lives difficult?
    Post edited by Osky on
  • I have been working in the same place for 12 years and back when I joined some guy found out I played guitar. I was quickly invited to join the recently disbanded / attempting to regroup official work band. This was an acoustic band that played mostly traditional Mexican guitar stuff, and they had actually recorded a CD that was sold / distributed among the employees. The whole thing had fallen apart because the leader/brain behind the thing died unexpectedly, and they were having a hard time getting reorganized. I think they wanted new blood / reason to get back together.

    I refused. I might not be the best metal player out there, but I can play acoustic stuff, no problem. And I could play lead, which apparently nobody BUT the deceased guy could. I even enjoy some of that stuff (thanks dad) but I figured I was in for a big pain in the neck. I was in my late 20s. Most of the guys there were old enough to be my father, so being the leader seemed weird to me. also I was going thru a painful and messy divorce. My heart just wasn't into it and It wasn't worth the hassle.

    They never got back together. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had accepted. Oh well...

    Reading this Dave, and knowing myself, I would probably say no. But you seem willing to deal with the stuff. Who knows? Maybe you will get something worth out of it? Maybe just for the chance of playing with other people for a change?
  • TravisWTravisW Posts: 1,064
    My first thought is "what is the trumpet/bassists job in the office?" Maybe he's not out because somebody else in the band is afraid of reprisals, he's friends with a boss, he's cousin to a VP, etc. Was he the reason the higher-ups decided to subsidize the whole thing? It seems to me that the existing members pretty much have two reasons for not dealing with him. One is that he has the clout I mentioned above. The other is that they're too feckless to bother with it, which from how you described their performances could be the case. 

    In either case, I'd approach the whole thing with kid gloves like you are. I think you're correct that dealing with the "founder" has to happen right away. Another thing is that you're very possibly the only person involved with any significant real band experience (gigging, recording, etc). If there's enough ability among the others to work with, and you can work well with defacto leader, it might be worth it. But even if you can join in sort of a player/coach capacity, it's worth knowing how the group makes decisions. How is the lineup determined? How about song selection? 

    All that said, if it works out it's not only a way to have some fun and meet new people, but also put yourself in front of the rest of the company and demonstrate leadership in a different context. 

  • Dinosaur David BDinosaur David B Posts: 18,669
    edited September 2017
    Osky said:
    I wonder if the reason nobody will deal with the knobhead trumpet/bassist is due to his position in the company? If he's in a position of power then I can understand people's lack of balls if he could potentially make their professional lives difficult?
    It would seem he's just an individual contributor and not a manager.  Still, it certainly makes things trickier than just a normal band situation.  

    So here is the email exchange I just had with the defacto leader:

    Hi Paul,
    Because we went or separate ways after the jam last night, I just wanted to circle back with you today about how you felt things went. 

    From my perspective, I thought it was good fun, and the people who were there seemed cool. However, I'm quite leery of this situation with Dimitri. For me, this kind of thing has to be fun to be worth doing. I haven't even met the guy yet, but the way you guys are describing that situation -- a guy no one seems to want in the band, that other players have quit over, who's going to pull things in an unwanted direction, and causes drama -- sounds like more trouble than it's worth. 

    I'm willing to go a little further with a few more rehearsals and see how it goes, but I feel that this situation must be addressed in some way other than just letting the guy come back, and recreating the same old problems -- problems that are currently solved by his absence.  I see conflicts ahead, there.   So I'm asking you, what is the plan here? What's going to be done here?  

    Your thoughts?


    Hi, David,

    I hear you. My plan is simply to have a frank chat with Dimitri to just tell it like it is. I was hoping he would be here today, but there is still time before we start rehearsing.

    I think I may have played up the potential stubbornness on his part a bit much. In truth, he is a very talented guy and he cares a lot. That caring is actually what has gotten him into trouble in the past. I think the missing piece of the puzzle is that the people who quit were all people who showed up without doing the work. He would be frustrated that he would go to a lot of trouble to do, for example, horn arrangements over a weekend, and then people would show up sounding exactly the same as previous weeks and with an attitude on top of that. I highly doubt you will fall into that camp, and all of the "slackers" are now gone.

    The only other possible source of contention will be over song selection as we are definitely not going to only choose songs that work with horns this time around. Most of his song selection criteria revolves around a song being interesting and not simple AC DC rock tunes. He will have his say and the rest of the band will have theirs. He has come around to songs he hated the idea of at first and embraced them and then in the end they would be his favorite of the set. So, he's not that bad. Unless you are a slacker.

    In fact, nearly all of the drama involved the horn section, so I really hope he doesn't try to recruit anyone else.

    I hope that clears things up.

    I will be sending out a a welcome message shortly. Glad to have you in the band!


    My REPLY

    Well that makes me feel a little better. I also care, and have little patience for slackers either. I take a professional pride in being prepared, and ready to work -- so when I go on stage in front of people, I'm as good as I can be. 

    What exactly are you going to tell him? Are you going to suggest he play bass, primarily?

    His REPLY

    I'm pretty sure I can get him to play bass at least on songs that I sing. I'm happy to play bass on other songs. Jimmy is unsure about the whole band thing, so Dimitri can also play keys. Then, say, violin on one song and horn on a couple, and we should be good.

    That is the gist, though. Don't expect horns on every song. I think he'll be cool with it.

    So that's where it stands.  I'm gonna give this a whirl, and probably commit to playing the December holiday party.  If it has sucked up until then, I'll probably bail afterward. If it's been fun, I won't.
    Post edited by Dinosaur David B on
    I threw me guitar out. Why bother? Why bother? Use it as a coffee table. Because I can't play it like that. 
    -- David St. Hubbins.
  • This would/could be a really good reality i'd watch! Good luck Dave....curious to see how this all plays out. 
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